Opinions expressed by businessman the collaborators are theirs.
Are you frustrated with information overload? I was too, for a while, one that reminds me The Simpsons episode in which Mr. Burns offers his trademark, “Excellent!”, but when asked what he meant by that, he flatly replies, “the opposite of what it used to be.”
That’s how I feel about most business gurus today, and I’m so sick of the amount of crap I had to ignore and overcome just to be able to find a little glimmer of gold in a pile of dirt.
A few discoveries I made on the way to this realization:
1. Just because someone is successful doesn’t mean they can teach others to be successful
I’m not saying all business gurus are bad. Some of them are smart and know what they are talking about, but many are simply repeating what others have said without understanding the concepts themselves.
Here’s an example: Many people will tell you that you need to hire a coach to help you succeed in business. I’ve even seen coaches say it themselves, but think about it for a second: if you want to learn how to swim, would it make sense for me, someone who knows nothing about swimming, to teach you? Of course not!
This is exactly why so many business owners hire coaches who have never been in their shoes before, only to be disappointed when they don’t know what they’re doing. So listening to Tony Robbins or other more lifestyle-oriented experts when the specific need is for advice on how to start a business may not always be the best idea.
2. Success rarely comes from following someone else’s playbook
I know that’s not what most people want to hear – we all want to find out what has worked for others and then copy it. It’s tempting to think you’ll get the same results if you do that, but here’s the problem with this approach: It doesn’t work.
We’ve all heard success stories of tweaking someone else’s formula until it worked for them, but in reality these situations are so rare that while they might make for great anecdotes, they’re poor business advice . If you want to be an entrepreneur or start your own business, there are better ways to get started than simply emulating what worked for someone else, especially if that person is in a different industry or market.
Related: Take the road less traveled to unlock your full potential
3. The “One Hit Wonder” Guru Trap.
I’m sure you’ve seen headlines like “How I Made $100,000 at 27” or “How I Fired My Boss and Started My Own Business.” These articles are all over the place, but very often they are stories of people who are not successful and/or written by those who want to be in the limelight for a brief moment before fading into obscurity. They want their 15 minutes of fame, but have no real advice to offer.
It probably won’t surprise you, but most of these gurus are also marketers who sell courses or books that explain how to make money. In short, they have no interest in helping you succeed as long as they can sell you something.
The truth is, most people are not ready to run themselves businesses, especially if they are just starting out and don’t yet have the right skills or experience. The result is that you could easily spend thousands of dollars on a course only to find that it doesn’t work for you at all.
4. Mirages Podcast
I’m a huge fan of podcasts, and favorites include The Tim Ferriss Show i The James Altucher Show, but there’s one type of podcast I don’t listen to, and I’m far from alone in that preference. In a recent Top Rank marketing digest and survey analysis, one statistic particularly struck me: Only 4% of respondents reported listening to business podcasts.
Because? Because most of them are boring…long, long and full of useless chatter about the minutia of running a company. There’s nothing wrong with being passionate about your work, but the resulting accounts tend to be uninteresting to anyone but the entrepreneurs themselves.
Of course, there are exceptions: Noah Kagan presents it’s entertaining because Kagan talks about his personal experiences as an entrepreneur; tell stories rather than give advice.
Related: The perfect work-life balance starts with saying no
5. What happens without the noise
I used to be a sponge for the wisdom of the world’s top entrepreneurs and business leaders – consuming every word of their books, blogs, podcasts and videos. I listened to their interviews while I made dinner and jogged around the block; I heard them even in my sleep! But over time, all that listening made me feel like something was missing. It became noise and not signal – noise from people trying to sell me something or who had a very different perspective than mine. So one day I decided to stop listening to business gurus altogether, and this is what happened:
• I began to think more clearly about my own goals
• My productivity went through the roof
• My creativity blossomed
6. Gurus likely don’t know squat about your industry
We’ve all been there: You’re at a conference and you’re bound to hear someone talk about how they made millions of dollars selling their product or service. You can’t help but think, “Wow, if only I had this idea, I’d be rich.”
The problem is that he probably doesn’t know anything about your industry, but has a one-size-fits-all answer, and that’s because these guys are often generalists – they don’t specialize in anything. So why would you listen to them? The answer is that you probably shouldn’t.
And you know what? If it works for them, great, but it probably won’t work for you because you’re different from them (and everyone else). You have unique challenges and opportunities that just require a unique approach you can create
Carve your own path
After years of chasing expert advice and trying to emulate their success, I decided there was a better way to do it. By creating your own model, you’re focusing on the only things that really matter: finding your voice, telling your story, and making sure your customers know you exist. Focus on these three things, and the rest will take care of itself.
Related: How to pave your own way in business